From mural paintings to adorable metal craftsmanship to exquisite handicrafts to the Kerala saree, Gods own country's keepsake goodies reflect the rich lineage and cultural exuberance of the land. The quality of products and exquisite designs makes shopping for some memorabilia over here a wonderful experience. If you venture into some of our handicraft emporiums around the state or explore the antique shops in Jews Street you are most likely to take home some goodies. Have a look into some of Kerala's most popular stuff:
Murals and Paintings
Kerala has a huge collection of murals painted between 15th and 19th centuries based on the ancient mythological themes. The main events in the myths related to Hindu gods and goddesses are painted in a series of murals in most ancient temples and palaces of Kerala. A look into these marvels reveals the dedication and devotion of the artisans in creating such masterpieces. All raw materials for the painting including colour, gum and brushes are obtained from plants and natural minerals. Most of these painting are seen on a saffron background with shades of yellow, white, golden yellow, red, blue and black. Besides mural paintings, Raja Ravi Varma paintings have also become the face of Kerala's rich art tradition. These paintings seize subtle emotions of either mythological characters or the common man in a realistic manner. Art lovers can buy paintings or remakes of these sold in art galleries especially in Kochi.
Kerala artisans over the years have proved their talent in making adorable items like lamps, vessels and mirror from Odu (Bronze). Nilavilakku or lamp is a part of all rituals and ceremonies in Kerala and the diverse range of ornate designs of lamps talks about the creative talent of Kerala's artisans. Other pooja items like Kindi (water container), the Uruli (shallow cooking vessel) and Thattu (plates) are delicately crafted in bronze. Most of these items which have a authentic Kerala touch are available in curio shops around the state. Two items of special interest with in Kerala are the Aranmula Kannadi (Mirror) and the Nettur Petti (Traditional Jewellery Box) The centre for the modeling and fashioning most these traditional items is in North Kerala.
Aranmula Kannadi (Mirror):
This is a special type of mirror which reflects the image with complete clarity as they fall just on the top surface of the metal. The making of this mirror is an exclusive art known only to a few members of a family who originally created it. A natural curiosity to know about the mysterious elements that is used in the making of the Aranmula Mirror has added to the aura that surrounds this admirable mirror. The story goes that the ruler of Aranmula invited some craftsmen from Tamil Nadu to design the temple and present him with a crown. In the process they discovered the reflective power of a special alloy and developed it into the legendary Aranmula Kannadi to help women enhance their beauty. Soon, a Valkannadi - an oval mirror with a rim and a tail like handle was designed. This truly is an incredible traditional equipment.
Another traditional Kerala's eye-catching design in bell metal includes boxes for jewellery, betel leaves and incense burners. Nettur Petti or the traditional jewellery box, the possession of which was once considered an indication of royalty and wealth, is an astonishingly attractive item. Made of rosewood and fully hand crafted with each lock and screw shaped and chiseled by hand, this is another authentication of the patience and skill of Kerala's artisans. The box is completed by fixing brass frames in the outer for beauty. Today, this richly fashioned box with its conical lid is a collector's item
The inimitable nature of the crafts of Kerala arises from the very motif of all things related this land - simplicity. Craftsmen with their magical skill transform humble raw natural products into crafts that have an aestheticism in it. While it is difficult to define the alchemy that goes into the making of these stuff of décor and utility, it is easier to admire the creativity and professionalism of the artisans. Here is a sneak peak into some of Kerala's most cherished take aways
Models of the art form are popular mementos. The mask made of various materials like - plaster of Paris, clay, papier mache or carved out of wood has become the face of Kerala. The models capture the representational rules and the super natural characteristics of the characters portrayed by Kathakali artists. Model of around 5 different types of characters are available. The Kathakali faces made of wood are also equally elegant.
The lighting of Nilavilakku or the traditional brass lamp is believed to be auspicious. Lamps play an important role during the presentation of various art forms since most of them are performed at night in the light of the lamp. The performers also bow before the lamp before starting the performance as to get the blessings of the God. There are different kinds of ornate lamps - the aarthi deepa (prayer lamp), the nendi deepa (the external lamp), mayil vilakku (the peacock lamp), hamsa Vilakku (swan lamp) and the archana deep (lamp for offering). And then there is the huge magnificent deepasthamba that stands before the sanctum in a temple
Wood carving or sculpting is one the finest and time perfected skill of Keralites. Bestowed with a rich variety of tropical wood our wood products are made from like solid teak, white cedar, beautiful rosewood and sturdy bamboo. The temple architecture in Kerala is resplendent with intricate wood work. Figurines of gods like Krishna, Rama, and Siva in Nataraja avatar are perfected and show the magnificence of a royal craft. Miniature versions of elephants instilled with dignity and grace - the Keralites favorite animal (Keralites are known for their tusker mania)- are available in different sizes. Miniature snake boats also belong to the awesome mementoes of this land.
Kerala literally means the land of Coconuts. The coir products of Kerala prove that the people of Kerala make use of each and every part of the coconut tree. Mats, rugs, wall hangings, hammocks, bags, door pieces, ceiling and floor furnishings, beds, cushions, show pieces and many more products are made with coir. It is an important small scale industry of Kerala which is monetarily supported by the Kerala government.
Fibrecrafts are articles made out of fibre. Dolls as light as feather, mats, purses, bags, bangles, wall frames etc; are list of handmade fibre items which is designed according to the skill of the craftsmen. This field comes under the cottage industry and these articles reach the major cities from many hamlets in the State. Generally White or blond, these fibres are obtained from plants like the banana (stem), Pineapple (leaves) etc. The soft, glazy and silky surface of the fibre gives the products a complete polished finishing. These fibres are twisted, turned and dyed with pigments, before they are woven into mind-blowing fibre articles
Uru - the Age Old Vessel:
Urus were gigantic vessels for travel by sea, which was methodically created by nailing planks of timber together. It takes a team of fifty men and at least four years to complete a vessel. The craftsmen of Beypore in Kozhikode are experts in making Urus. Today, as a gift to the world, the artisans make small 'Model Vessels' crafted out of teak. It's a miniature of the big Uru. The cost of this small model vessels ranges between Rs.180/- to Rs.25, 000/- Fancy articles like small Urus in crystal bottles is very popular and priced between Rs. 125/- and Rs.500/-
The Keralites passion for gold is reflected in every walk of life. The way the keralite bride gets ornated in gold for her wedding to how the tuskers are embellished with the Nettipattom (a glittering ornament placed on the forehead of the elephant). This love for gold runs down to the days of the Raja's and hence we have an entire gamut of traditional and authentic Kerala jewellery designs.
The sheer range of designs in the jewellery is awe-inspiring; we will see today's trendy styles as well as traditional patterns like Pavitrakettu or the choker, the Elakka thali inspired by cardamom seeds or the Naagapadam which is a long chain embedded with green stones and a pendant shaped like a snake. Other traditional style of necklaces are Poothali, Manonmani, Palaykkamala, Mangamala, Dalamini, Chuttiyum Chelum and puliyamothiram and many more. The traditional styles in earrings are Jimikka, kannuneerthulli and Thoda and some famous bangle designs are Kappu, stones, pearls and enamel painted bracelets. We can also see different varieties of ear studs, rings, odhyanams (a thin belt worn around the waist), anklets and much more.
Textiles - the Kerala Saree:
There is gold in clothes too! The Kasavu spun in cotton and gold is a fabric that shimmers with rich beauty. Kasavu sarees are the traditional wear of brides in marriage ceremonies. The perfect destination for kasavu dresses is Kasavukada and Karalkada. The classic Kerala saree is made of light cotton material in off white with a border woven from the golden thread (kasavu). The tissue saree made by layering cotton and kasavu threads or the more colourfully bordered Kerala saree are the slightly more contemporary versions. Set-mundu for women and mundu for men are the traditional wear of the Keralites. The off white cotton material used for all this traditional wear is suitable for the climate here. The is unique dress code is followed for our cultural, religious and events reflecting the flavor of the land. Prices vary according to the purity and amount of kasavu used in the outfit. An outfit gets ready in 20 to 30 days as only one person weaves each sari.
Where to get all these?
Handicrafts & Artifacts:
The Jew Street in Kochi has a rich and uncountable collection of antique shops that sell old exquisite articles. We can notice furniture, artifacts, vessels and woodwork which are displayed at various antique shops. The Jew town has become tantamount for precious artifact pieces of India and colonial origin. There vintage include old paintings, wooden mirrors, Chinese urns, skillfully carved chests and many more.
Kasavu kada and Karalkada in kochi are famous for the traditional kerala saree and mundu with high quality kasavu. For general textile shopping with an Indian flavor M G road in Kochi is a right place. With mega textile shops like Seematti, Jayalashmi and Kalyan who are majors in silk sarees.
For sourcing of any of these products and a more comprehensive shopping guide, Indus will provide you with all the necessary information during the package execution (On request).